In The News: 457 visa review

FASTER processing of applications and preferential treatment for ‘low risk’ employers are two strategies that would vastly improve the 457 visa system, according to some industry groups and businesses. About 40 stakeholders have been consulted to date, as part of the federal government’s review of the temporary skilled migration program. The review is being led by a panel of industry experts, which gave its interim findings to Immigration Minister Chris Evans last week, outlining a number of areas for improvement. These include the need for an accreditation system for employers with a good record of compliance, and the need to reduce administrative duplication. UWA director of the energy and minerals initiative, Tim Shanahan, who is a member of the reference group, said the interim report showed employers continued to rely on the visa pathway to boost their labour force. “One of the things that was evident in all of the submissions we received is that there is a very high demand still for skilled migrant workers,” he said. Among the strategies being considered by the reference group is widening the scope of the 457 visa, to allow semiskilled workers to be recruited. It’s a proposal that has the support of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA, which suggests the current system is too restrictive. “We want (the occupations) category expanded to meet business needs,” CME ‘People for the Future’ executive officer, Tanya Cecconi, said. “Ideally, we’d like it to include whatever is required by business, to give that flexibility.” Ms Cecconi said employers needed more education about the visa system, which could be achieved by streamlining the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s resources. She said less regulation and online tracking of applications would also help employers. “WA has got the highest level of employment, and we’re really concerned about the threat of labour shortages constraining future productivity,” she said. Emily Piesse

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